Traditional ski holidays and ski seasons are typically marked as over-indulgent on both food and drink, and many people won’t give a second thought to fitness. However, as a ski instructor, to ensure that you’re at your peak performance for both exams and the intensity of instructing, you’ll need to think about your fitness.
You’ll both need to be fit, and probably become fitter, for life as a ski instructor, or ski instructor-in-training – those 5kg ski boots won’t walk themselves to the lift, those 6 stone children who keep falling over will often need righting, and skiing itself can be pretty demanding. If you’re still working through the qualifications, then the likelihood is that the further you go, the fitter you’ll need to be, and this is particularly the case for the pinnacle test, the Euro test.
You’ll need a mix of fitness as an instructor; stamina, agility, strength – particularly core and leg, muscle endurance, power and general aerobic fitness. And obviously, all this changes at altitude where the oxygen levels are thinner, so you’ll need to be even fitter to cope with that; there’s a reason that the top athletes train in high altitude conditions to achieve their peak fitness levels. And don’t forget to keep it up in the off-season, it’s perhaps even more important in this time. The fitter you are when you start the season, the easier it is to keep it up throughout.
For the mix of fitness required, you’ll need to mix up your training to include stamina work, strength and conditioning, and muscle training. Due to the ski instructor lifestyle you’ll also need to be able to fit this in around wherever you are, whether there’s a gym or not. Good pieces of kit to pick up to help are kettlebells (or use something heavy that you have anyway, a ski boot filled with tins of beans?), a skipping rope, a slackline (good for core training and agility), a fitness ball (these can deflate so can be portable), a resistance band, and if you’re going all out, a battle rope.
By mixing in circuit-style training with stamina work such as power walking and hiking, running, swimming and cycling, you’ll start to work through all the areas needed. Check out New Gen’s blog for a series of training programmes for ski instructors. And have a look at the facilities that resorts have for fitness, many have swimming pools or gyms, and join the Facebook group or online forum for seasonnaires in your resorts as you’ll often find people with additional talents teaching yoga, pilates or other classes in the evenings (professional athletes rave about the benefits of yoga and pilates so give them a try if you can).
The BASI Common Theory exam, which is required for your Level 3 (ISIA) provides a good introduction to the body, its abilities and its relation to skiing (as well as quickly testing how ski-ready yours is!). Many of the other qualification systems don’t have a similar course to this, but if you’re going through the BASI system then often people are surprised at how interesting and relevant they find this module when they just turn up to ‘tick a box’.
In summary, you’re going to need strong legs, good core strength and stamina to ensure that you’re at your peak for your training, exams and teaching. It doesn’t mean that if you’re not fit, you won’t succeed, but fitness will play a part in your abilities as well as your skills. But remember, a little bit of work hard, play hard never hurt anyone (disclaimer – “a little bit” is key).
Overall, better fitness is going to enable you to ski at a high level for at least 6 hours a day, enjoy free-ski time when you’re not teaching, ensure that your skiing is safer on your body as you are less likely to cause muscular or other kinds of damage, and of course ensure that you are able to enjoy your skiing, so have we persuaded you enough?